Tyara De Jesus Response to “The Rhetorical Situation” by Lloyd Bitzer

In “The Rhetorical Situation” by Lloyd F. Bitzer, he starts off by describing to us circumstances that we are able to recognize, such as “ethical, dangerous, or embarrassing”. In putting these labels we give no space to characterize rhetorical situations. Bitzer says “ What characteristics, then, are implied when one refers to ‘the rhetorical situation’ – the context in which speakers or writers create rhetorical discourse”. In saying this he’s making a claim we give a rhetorical situation, a meaning with too simplicity. A rhetorical situation goes deeper than it just being rhetorical. “Rhetorical situations exhibit structures which are simple or complex, and more or less organized” (Bitzer 11).  In reality what is a rhetorical situation? How can something simple but also complex, or more or less organized? Rhetorical discourse is described as “comes into existence in response to situation, in the same sense that an answer comes into existence in response to a question..” (Bitzer 5). Rhetorical is the outcome to an event. According to Bitzer exigence, audience and constraints are what make a rhetorical situation. Exigence is an issue, in which Bitzer describes as imperfect, audience is who the author or writer is trying to reach and constraints is what persuades the audience.

Bitzer writes “It is true, of course, that scientists and poets present their works to audiences, but their audiences are not necessarily rhetorical” (page 8). How can their audiences not be rhetorical? If a poet writes about an issue or a scientists shares research, and has an audience to reach out to, and a goal of persuasion, how is it not rhetorical? Bitzer adds all these meanings to rhetorical situation, but how can we label things as rhetorical and not rhetorical if they can be both simple and complex?

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